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Egypt is set to announce on April 27 whether President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi can extend his term in office from 2022 to 2030 under constitutional changes put to a controversial referendum over the weekend.
El-Sisi, who came to power in 2013 after a coup, is seeking to prolong his stay in office, tighten his grip over the country’s judiciary, and extend military powers in the hastily proposed referendum.
El-Sisi’s rule has been called out for human rights violations, but the leader is pitching himself as a pillar of stability in a restive region where, over the past weeks, protests in Algeria and Sudan have resulted in the two countries’ respective long-term presidents leaving office.
El-Sisi has turned Egypt into a major gas producer thanks to the country’s speedy development of the largest natural gas find in the Mediterranean, which came just a couple of years after he took office.
Italy’s oil and gas major Eni discovered the huge Zohr field in 2015, claiming it was the largest ever gas discovery in the Mediterranean. Following the start-up of the giant Zohr field in early 2018, Egypt became an important player in the Mediterranean. Zohr plays a key role in helping Egypt to avoid the need to import liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to the Italian energy major.
Egypt will return to being a gas exporter this year and wants to be a regional gas hub due to its strategic geographic position. It is also attracting international oil majors to its oil and gas sector.
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Earlier this year, BP’s chief executive officer Bob Dudley said that the UK-based supermajor had invested more in Egypt in each of the past two years than in any other country.
Egypt’s luck in geographical positioning and the much improved investment climate have led to an “astonishing gas renaissance” in the country, Wood Mackenzie’s Chairman and Chief Analyst, Simon Flowers, wrote in April last year.
“Egypt has assumed unprecedented importance in both Eni’s and BP’s global portfolios in the short passage of time since 2015. It’s now the third most important country position for Eni by value at US$9billion, NPV10; and fourth for BP at US$11billion, NPV10,” Flowers said a year ago.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
He has turned Egypt into a major gas producer thanks to the country’s speedy development of the largest natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The discovery of the giant offshore Zohr gasfield, the biggest in the Eastern Mediterranean just a couple of years after President el-Sisis took office and its speedy start-up in early 2018 have made Egypt again a major gas producer and the regional energy hub of the Eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, Egypt will soon return to being a gas exporter and that will enable it to reduce its budget deficit.
The stability that President el-Sisi provided and the huge gas discoveries have made Egypt a very attractive foreign investment destination for major oil companies such ENI, BP and ExxonMobil. Egypt has assumed unprecedented importance in both Eni’s and BP’s global portfolios in the short passage of time since 2015.
That is why the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people would welcome an extension of term in office for President el-Sisi from 2022 to 2030.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London